A conversation I had last Tuesday got me thinking about desires. I’ve been dealing a lot with that (and fears too) the last few years and it’s still a fight every day. They’re my single biggest obstacle to being at peace and they are closely related. Fears aren’t necessarily a problem. Running away from a charging predator in the forest seems a healthy choice to me but modern fears mainly pertain to fantasies in our head, things that we think might happen (or not happen). Desires aren’t necessarily a problem too; they can give direction and purpose to our actions and if one is steadily working towards a desired goal this can be a great journey. Problems arise when this goal is not achievable or realistic. I’m not going the Buddhist path by saying that personality is an illusion, that everything is ephemeral and that attachment equals suffering. Having a goal is fine, as long one is not attached to accomplishing it. A desire is a goal with attachment to the outcome and this will result in suffering. Even though that is all true, it is not a very helpful approach unless you’re in a monastery.
Take the desire for some relationship. Look at your life right now and not the picture you painted of the future. Is your relationship really that bad? Or is it good but you just have created this picture in your head of how wonderful things should\could be, without checking how great the chances are of this fantasy really turning out that way? Our minds are brilliant at creating wonderful future images or, at the other extreme, horrible ones too. When we focus on an imaginary future we lose track of the Now. Most of the time this Now isn’t all that bad. We lose ourselves in the future image which has no reality to it and we keep comparing that with our current situation, making the Now seem bad. This is not a fair comparison since the Mind knows exactly what our weak spots are and how to construct the most amazing future. The desire results in a fear of missing out because as time progresses and the desire is not fulfilled, we grow scared we’ll never ‘get it’.
We project the missing out into the future and imagine our lives in misery without ever satisfying this desire while we can’t know what our life will be like tomorrow, let alone one year or 10 years from now. So I try to take it a day at a time and not give the mind the privilege of painting a future for me. Take life a day at a time and stay in the Now. Observe every moment as it presents itself, not wanting it to be any specific way. I think this is one of Life’s hardest and greatest lessons. This text is a reminder for myself too and a life task in progress.
Stay strong, be Present and take care!